GP Network News, Issue 12 Number 40

12 Oct 2012

New funding needed to support primary care

AMA Vice President, Professor Geoffrey Dobb, speaking on the AMA’s submission to the draft National Primary Health Care Strategic Framework, said that the AMA supports many aspects of the draft Framework in principle but it defies logic for governments to shift a greater patient care burden onto the primary care sector without a single dollar of new funding.

“The primary care sector, general practice particularly, must be properly funded to meet future demand and to maintain the high quality that makes the Australian health system one of the best in the world,” Professor Dobb said.

Key areas covered in the AMA submission include e-health, investment in GP consultations, and tackling chronic disease.

Professor Dobb said that the draft Framework also raises a number of controversial issues that contain little detail or discussion, and upon which there has been no consultation, including:

  • blended payments systems;
  • pre-payments and payment for performance with salaried arrangements; and
  • development of performance indicators, which identify circumstances in which consumers may not be receiving the most appropriate care.

“These issues require extensive discussion and consultation with the AMA and other groups before the Framework is finalised,” Professor Dobb said.

The AMA submission is here. For the full media release click here.

AMA Council of General Practice

The AMA Council of General Practice (AMACGP), which is made up from key GP opinion leaders from across the country is meeting in Canberra this weekend.

AMACGP Chair, Dr Brian Morton, said this meeting is particularly important as we will talking about a number of key issues for general practice including:

  • Clinical indicators;
  • Immunisation and conscientious objection;
  • Barriers to teaching in general practice;
  • Lessons learnt from the New Zealand model of primary care funding and delivery; and
  • Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) update.

World Mental Health Day – “Depression: A Global Crisis”

Wednesday this week, October 10, marked World Mental Health Day, with its 2012 theme, “Depression: A Global Crisis”. The World Health Organization estimates that depression affects more than 350 million people worldwide.

GPs are trusted providers of mental health care and advice at the local level. In 2008-09, more than 13.2 million GP patient encounters involved management of a mental health issue. Many Australians have an established relationship with their local GP, who can provide advice and refer patients to the most appropriate care for their condition.

Professor Dobb, said that GPs provide continuity of care over time, and it is not uncommon for general practitioners to treat families across generations.

“They offer early intervention and timely responses in mental health detection, diagnosis and referral, as well as ongoing management. It is important that GPs are supported in the key role they play in providing people with easy local access to mental health services”, he said.

Professor Dobb said that the AMA has been active in advocating for better mental health services for some of the more disadvantaged in the community.

View the full press release here.

Recall of Infanrix Hexa Vaccine

After consultation with the TGA, GlaxoSmithKline Australia (GSK) has recalled six batches of Infanrix hexa (AUST R 132881) vaccine.

This precautionary recall is being taken because a surface in the area where one of the manufacturing steps for the vaccine takes place was found to have a small amount of contamination with the bacterium Bacillus cereus, an organism commonly found in food and soil. No contamination of the ingredients or in the vaccine itself was found.

The TGA says that GSK has confirmed that the efficacy and safety of the vaccine remain unchanged, and it does not believe this issue poses a health risk to the children who have received it. All of the identified batches passed the quality assurance testing, including sterility testing, required for the vaccine to be released for use in Australia.

For further information and details of which batches have been recalled, please click

Update: Manual Bulk Billing Arrangements

On 1 September 2012, the Department of Human Services (DHS) ceased printing and distribution of carbon bulk bill forms. The Department made all of the forms available on the Department’s website at Providers who do not have access to a computer or the internet, are able to continue to order the forms through the Department.

Following feedback from and consultation with the AMA about the new arrangements the Department has made the following changes to assist providers transitioning to the new arrangements:

  • Carbon bulk bill forms will continue to be printed for those providers who do not have access to a computer or printer. All orders for forms will be followed up with contact from the Department’s Business Development Officers to discuss other claiming options.
  • Practitioners are no longer required to keep a copy of the bulk bill form.
  • The patient copy of the web based bulk bill form is to be moved to the bottom of the page. (The new form is currently being updated and will be available on the Department’s website shortly).
  • If providers have existing stock of the carbon bulk bill forms, the Department will continue to accept these forms for processing until providers have exhausted their existing stock.
  • Carbon bulk bill forms will continue to be printed for those providers undertaking consultations outside of consulting rooms (i.e. nursing home visits, after hours consultations etc). All orders for forms will be followed up with contact from the Department’s Business Development Officers to discuss other claiming options.
  • Work is also underway to assess capacity to improve the mobile claiming channel – Easyclaim.

All enquiries regarding the new arrangements for bulk bill forms can be sent to

We welcome your comments and suggestions as well. Please tell us what you think.

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The double upgrade is available to AMA members at participating Hertz rental locations around Australia and when renting specified vehicle types. Simply call Hertz reservations on 13 30 39, or visit and quote your Customer Discount Programme #283826 and Promotion Code 174521.

In this issue

AMA is the peak medical organisation in Australia representing the profession’s interests to Government and the wider community. Your Federal AMA General Practice Policy team can be contacted via email or by phone (02) 6270 5400. You can unsubscribe from GPNN by emailing